Picking Pullen Peaches: This Stratford, OK family savors the sweetness of their fruit and their struggles

Great State

STRATFORD, Okla. (KFOR) – Picking seasons for peaches starts in June and ends in mid-August.

But when the Lorings are ripe, and the annual Stratford Peach Festival gets close, the Pullen family pulls together.

It’s all hands on deck both picking and sorting for the Pullen grandchildren.

Kaylee Pullen explains, “The Number 1’s are the perfect peaches. They’re beautiful. The Number 2’s have a few dents and dings here and there. Overipes are self-explanatory. They’re just too ripe.”

If a few of those overipes don’t make it to the box, that’s okay too.

Kaylee says, “The juice just runs down your face when you eat them.”

The production life of a peach tree is surprisingly short, not much longer than a decade.

In Oklahoma, a lot can happen in that time frame.

Craig and Sue Pullen know better than any farmers in Stratford how branches wither, how disease can take life sooner than they might expect.

“You just have to keep turning the page to the next chapter,” Craig advises.

Craig lost his wife a few years ago. Sue lost her husband.

Sue says, “When we lost our spouses, we both felt like the sand had just kind of run through the hourglass and it was just over.”

But seasons changed and new life sprang forth.

Craig and Sue have been married two harvest seasons now, and have a new perspective on what kind of sweet fruit life can bring.

Sue says, “Later on Craig told me that we were going to take that hourglass and turn it upside down.”

Craig echoes, “Turned it over and decided to start again. It’s been a good thing for both of us.”

A peach farmer in Stratford has to be ready for early freezes, late rains or no rain at all.

A third of the time there might not even be a harvest.

This year is pretty good.

The Red Globes glow with the summer flowers and life hangs on, all the sweeter for the twists and turns in takes to ripen.

Sue giggles, “It can be pretty romantic.”

The Stratford Peach festival has taken place the third weekend in July since 1976.

The 2020 Festival is scheduled for July 18.

This year, organizers have a 5k run, a car show, and a peach cook-off planned among other activities.

For a full schedule, go to their Facebook page by clicking here.

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